Sunday, November 29, 2015


We had to dress warm.  Do you think this coat may be a tad big?

Arnold's new sweater vest - courtesy of DI.

Ready for the cold?  Hat - check, woobie - check, gloves - check, top coat - check,
warm smile - double check.

 Lights outside of the Family History Library


Inside the Tabernacle

It wasn't as easy as we thought it would be to take pictures of the lights in the dark.  But, as we keep saying, these are not art, they are memories.  And, it was fabulous in person!


This was the only shot of the Nativity that turned out.  We will go back in the daytime and get the rest.  It was wonderful - they told the story of Christ's birth and lights shown on the part they were talking about.  When that part was finished, there was a recording by President Monson about the ways we can honor Christ as this time of year and always.  It was a perfect ending to the evening.
All is all, it was a cold and glorious evening.


Home Sweet Home for the next year.

View from our balcony - our Branch meets in the chapel right across the street.


While we were in training in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, we had lunch each day at the Nauvoo Café, downstairs from where we were being trained.  The café is right behind the statue of Joseph Smith.



The food there was delicious.  They made wonderful sandwiches, soups and salads.  Our favorite was their turkey pot pie.  It was fantastic.


Hymns Can Carry Important Personal Messages

Every morning during training, we had a devotional.  They showed video clips, both inspirational and funny.  Then one of the new missionaries gave a thought (talk) and his/her spouse read a scripture and gave the prayer.

When it was our turn, Arnold gave this talk, and JoAnn read Psalms 27:1. "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"

Arnold's talk must have struck a cord with the other missionaries, because nearly everyone of the missionaries, and most of the trainers, came up to him afterwards and thanked him for the message.  After almost 2 weeks of intensive training, we all were wondering how well we could do, and whether we would measure up. 

Hymns Can Carry Important Personal Messages

Back in the early 1970s I enjoyed the blessing of being a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  I have always loved our hymns and the messages they convey and the spirit they bring to our meetings. Some are prayers to our Heavenly Father. Some are His messages to us. Some are more appropriately sung in Sacrament Meetings. Some are meant for special occasions, while others are good and bring special spirit to our homes in Family Home Evening.

I began losing my hearing a few years ago. As a result, I came to the realization that singing is closely dependant on hearing to be able to intonate well and balance and blend with other singers.  As much as I love Music, I realized that it was time to ask to be released from the fine North Las Vegas Stake Choir to which I had been called.  Elder Quentin L. Cook of the twelve said in the October 2011 General Conference something which seemed directed to me.  He said: A line from a beloved hymn provides comfort, solace, and the clear lens: ‘And Jesus listening can hear the songs I cannot sing.’

Stenosis of Vertebrae in my lower back has weakened my legs.  I even went through some physical therapy to strengthen my ability to walk and stand for extended periods of time. I was concerned that I might not have the ability to walk and stand as might be required for our mission.  We had also paid for a tour of early church history sites including Independence Missouri, Far West, Liberty, Adam-Ondi-Ahman, Nauvoo, Carthage, Winter Quarters. It goes without saying that this tour would require a lot of walking. To prepare ourselves for the expected rigors of this tour, we began walking in our neighborhood in the early mornings. We live in Las Vegas so when the hot weather hit, we changed our walks to inside shopping centers. We also enrolled in the YMCA so I could exercise to strengthen my legs.

We were totally thrilled with the experiences of this tour and the wonderful spirit we felt. It strengthened our testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and built an appreciation of the sacrifices of our ancestors, the early saints made to establish Zion.

The greatest disappointment for me personally was how I physically felt.  It should not have been a surprise that I could not stand for extended periods of time.  At the Independence Temple Lot while listening to a lecture on what will happen some day at that sacred place, I was unable to stand long enough for the entire presentation.  After that I learned to pace myself, seeking opportunities to sit and rest.

So one Saturday back in September, as I was thinking about this and considering our mission, I prayed earnestly that the Lord would bless me with the strength and stamina to serve Him.  As I was waking up the next Sunday morning the words to a hymn were running through my head.  I kept hearing over and over again: “I’ll strengthen thee, help thee and cause thee to stand.”  In those early hours those words kept echoing through my head I couldn’t get the rest it nor recall what hymn.

I should have been paying more attention to the message it was conveying.  Then as I was reading the scriptures that morning I realized: There is a message here especially for me. The Holy Ghost was speaking to my heart in a way that only I could understand. I am going to be all right serving this mission.  The Lord will help me. I was beginning to understand that this is the Lord’s message to me.

Yet, I still couldn’t think of the name of that hymn nor the verse that was running through my head.

Then at Sacrament meeting, we began to sing the opening hymn “How Firm a Foundation.”  When we began singing, I thought this could be it?  Then when we got to the third verse I realized this is it!   I knew the Lord was speaking to me in a way that I would understand.

When we got home from church, I opened the hymn book and looked up the rest of the words to this glorious hymn.  I realized that the many verses are addressed in the second person singular such as thee and thy instead of the second person plural you and yourUntil I learned another language, I would not have picked up on that subtle difference but it is apparent that by using the singular noun it represents the Lord speaking to us individually.

Imagine my feelings, if you will, when they announced the opening hymn that following Tuesday evening at our Stake High Priest Quorum Meeting: “How Firm a Foundation.”

It seems to me this hymn is addressed to Senior Missionaries:


At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—

As thy days may demand so thy succor shall be.


Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,

For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,

Upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand.          (Then on to verse 6)


E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove

My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love;

And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,

Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.


I pray that as we serve this sacred mission that we will come to rely upon the Lord not only physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually to strengthen us, help us and cause us to stand, upheld His righteous hand, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen
-- Arnold A. Miller
Note: For sake of message clarity, I stripped out sections where the same phrase repeats.

How Firm a Foundation #85

How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,

Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!

What more can he say than to you he hath said,

Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?


In ev’ry condition—in sickness, in health,

In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,

At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—

As thy days may demand so thy succor shall be.


Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,

For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,

Upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand.


When through the deep waters I call thee to go,

The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,

For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,

And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.


When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,

My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.

The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design

Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.


E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove

My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love;

And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,

Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.


The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose

I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,

I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!


Arnold A. Miller



Saturday, November 28, 2015


Today was one of those days that could be looked at from two directions.  The same events could be viewed as problems OR a tender mercies.

We awoke today to the first real snow since we arrived in Salt Lake City.  It wasn't a huge amount of snow, but we had so many errands that needed to be taken care of today, and with our unfamiliarity with driving in the snow, we decided to just stay home.

Unfortunately, JoAnn also awoke with a full blown urinary tract infection.  She called the Instant Care number that we had been given by the mission.  They answered, "Our hours are from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm seven days a week.  Please call back during our regular business hours."  But, it was already after 9:00 am.  We didn't want to go out in the snow if they were not going to be open, so JoAnn called several times.  They finally answered around 9:30 am.  They were open and we could come right over.  During the time we waited for them to answer (between 9:00 am and 9:30 am), the streets had been plowed and salted, the walks were cleared and the snow had stopped. 

Tender mercies one and two.

We have an insurance company that only works in Nevada, so we were worried about how much this was going to cost.  They took our information and checked with our insurance company.  It was going to be covered!  This even included the prescription antibiotic.  The pharmacy was just down the hall from the doctors, so no trekking around in the snow to find a pharmacy. 

Tender mercies three and four.

We not only were able to travel on the snowy streets without incident, but we found a Smith's grocery store that we have been searching for just a few blocks from the Instant Care.  We were out of several things, but had decided earlier not to go shopping in the snow.  But here it was right on our way.  We stopped and found it to be a great store that we will use from now on.  There were several other stores we had been looking for in that same block (Staples, a really good bakery, etc.). 

Tender mercies five and six.

We made it home just fine, JoAnn took her medicine and then took a nap.

Later in the afternoon, we decided to do one more errand.  The snow had melted somewhat and it seemed safe.  Just as we were about to pull away from the curb, a man got our attention and asked if we would let him in the apartment gate so he and his family could surprise from Elders with treats.  Arnold got out of the car and walked them down a few apartments, and let them in the gate.  When he came back to the car, he slipped on some wet leaves and fell right on his back side.  With the slippery grass/leaves, he was not able to get up.  We tried several times, but JoAnn was not strong enough.  After a short prayer for help, a young man walked by.  Arnold called, "Help!" and the young man came right over and was able to lift Arnold to his feet with no difficulty.  Arnold wasn't hurt, just had a wet back side from sitting on the wet grass. 

Tender mercy seven.

So, today could be looked at two ways.  We choose to see the tender mercies and thank a kind Heavenly Father for watching out for us, even in these seemingly small ways.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


When we first got to Salt Lake City, we thought we would be able to walk everywhere we needed to go.  However, the first day we found that our training was going to be in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building - the farthest from our apartment.

We all gathered outside of our apartment to walk over together, so no one would get lost.  Fortunately, we had a generous sister who stuck with us the entire time - while everyone else left us in their dust.

Arnold has come a long way with his physical therapy, and so we had hoped that he would be able to withstand the rigors of all the walking we would be required to do.  However, in the high altitude of Salt Lake City, it quickly became apparent that his legs were not going to hold him up for the entire distance.  Eventually, we were able to make it to our destination, but JoAnn was very nervous that Arnold was going to go down several times on the way.

She mentioned it to one of the sisters in the training when they asked if there were any physical problems that would necessitate us sitting at the front of the class to hear better.  JoAnn told her about Arnold's difficult walk.

A short time later, this sweet sister came and got JoAnn.  She had made us an appointment with the doctor (there is a free clinic right there on the floor we were on) for that afternoon.  He filled out the paperwork for Arnold to get a handicap parking placard.  There was no charge for the visit.  The Elder in charge of parking issued us a temporary parking permit so we could park closer until we got our handicap permit.

We got the address of the nearest DMV off of the internet and were going to go after training.  We were touring the Church History Library and "happened" to run into this sister (this was quite a ways from where she worked.  She asked if we were going to the DMV.  We told her where we were going and she said, "Oh No, that one isn't the right one."  She then told us the directions to another DMV, a little farther away.

After training, we drove to the right DMV and amazingly enough were called up to the window immediately after we signed in.  I know, that is possibly a DMV first.  The worker looked at our paperwork, commented on our mission, and right then and there issued us 2 handicap parking placards - no charge.  We were worried we would have to register our car in Utah and get Utah driver's licenses, but none of that happened.

We drove away with our placard, giving thanks for the Lord's tender mercies.

Friday, November 20, 2015


Today was our last day of training and we had a "Go Forth" meeting.  We started with videos, a talk, scripture and prayer, as usual.

Then we went into the Relief Society room for a "Bread and Honey-Butter Social." 

They had several kinds of bread, honey-butter, jams, juices and milk.  We then socialized for a little while with our trainers, mission presidency and all of our friends that we trained with. 

Finally, we adjourned back into the chapel to get our assignments.  We have spent the last two weeks in training not knowing which "zone" we would be assigned to.  Everyone was nervous and anxious to see where they would spend the next year to year and a half.  They then had us stand up when they called our names, told us our assignment, and introduced us to our zone leaders.


"I thought I was prepared to accept any number of assignments and be perfectly happy.  When they announced that we were going to be in International, my first thought was, "Oh no!  But I didn't learn French well in our last mission - I will have to start all over again."  However, an amazing transformation took place during the next 10 minutes.  My mind was flooded with all the wonderful advantages and blessings that were and would come because of this choice for us. 

This was exactly where Arnold wanted to serve, and with his French he will be such an asset. 

Arnold and I will be serving in the same zone.  Some of the couples were split up, each working in a different place.

Even though my French is less than perfect, most of the patrons who come to the International section of the Library speak English and are just looking for ancestors from different parts of the world.  Our records preservation mission in France taught me how to read French records, which will offset my non-ability to speak French..

We will be working in the Family History Library (the closest zone to our apartment).  We will be close enough that we can go home for lunch every day - thus saving us money and the worry of bringing a lunch to keep cold and have to warm up.  We had eaten out for lunch each day during training and, I am sure, gained weight. They say that this is a 20-pound mission, and this assignment will help us avoid that but being able to go home and eat healthy.

We will be working right in the Family History Library.  We will be right there to do our own research (we are allowed half a day a week to do our own research) with all their facilities at our fingertips. 

We will be working in the International Collection.  My "brick wall" is in German research.  Arnold and I both have Danish ancestry that we have put on the back burner as we did not know how to do Danish research.  Not only will we have access to all of those records, but we also will be able to use the professional genealogists that are on staff in International - expert help at no charge!

We will be working with patrons and enjoying that association.  Many of the zones are in the background and only see other missionaries that they are working with.

We will be working where we will be available to meet with family and friends that want to visit us while we are on our mission.

And most important of all, I truly felt that this was where Heavenly Father wanted us to work.  What more did I need?"

We then met briefly with our zone leaders, Elder and Sister Palmer, for some instructions about what to expect next week.

Everyone then adjourned and we all went to the Salt Lake Temple to do an endowment session.  What a wonderful ending to a wonderful day.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


On Monday night, the Branch hosted an activity for the new missionaries and those who were going home.  It was a fun dinner - baked potato salad bar with all the fixin's.  And, the dessert table went on forever.
There were so many people that the cultural hall (much larger than any other cultural halls we've ever been in) that we could scarcely fit all of us.  We are a Branch, but with 100% activity and everyone with a temple recommend, the spirit is amazing.
The new missionaries wore red polka dot ribbons with "HAIL" on them and the outgoing missionaries had green polka dot ribbons with "FAREWELL" on them.

The program was a photo history of the Stake President and the Branch President.  Our Branch President is Michel Miller.  He served his mission in Tahiti.  His wife is the Relief Society President and she is from Tahiti.  It was so fun to see them as a young couple.  She was one of the Polynesian dances at the Polynesian Center in Hawaii.  They speak French, and Arnold has had a fun time emailing them in French.
All of the young Elders are in our Branch.  They are Elders who for one reason or another were unable to serve a regular proselyting mission.  Many who of them are autistic or have Asperger's.  They are amazingly hard working and have tremendous skills with technology and helping with family history research..  They are a tremendous asset to the Mission.  We have 4 quorums of Elders - I don't know how many young Elders there are, but at the end of the program, they all came up on stage and sang "Called to Serve."  It was amazing.  They have such enthusiasm and are so sweet.  We couldn't help but get emotional.

All in all it was a great introduction to the Salt Lake 2nd Branch.

Monday, November 16, 2015


We were sitting in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building downstairs area when an older gentleman came up to us and said, "Do you want to hear a cute joke?"

Hoping for the best, we said, "Sure."

"There was a man who owned an orchard adjacent to a Catholic school.  He had a great number of apples one year so he offered them to the Nuns to give to the children.  The Nuns were delighted.  They set up a display at the end of the cafeteria line with a large pile of the apples.  There was a note attached to the apples that said,
Stock vector of 'Red apple, watercolor painting'

"'Take only one.  Remember God is watching.'

"The children happily took one apple each and all was going very smoothly.  Suddenly, one of the Nuns noticed that at the other end of the line, where they always put a large tray of cookies with the same instruction to take only one, was completely empty.  She went down to check it out.  There was a note on the empty tray that said,

Close up of an half eaten cookie with crumb against a white background Stock Photo - 16206781

"'Have as many cookies as you want.  God is busy watching the apples.'"

It made us laugh.

While in the checkout line at Walmart on Saturday, the woman behind us noticed we were missionaries.  She told us about two new sister missionaries from Brazil who were in the line in front of her a few weeks ago.  Behind her in line was a man who had served his mission to Brazil and his son was currently serving there.  When he learned that the two sister missionaries were Brazilian, he opened his wallet and paid for the Sisters' complete bill (over 100). 
  Flag of Brazil, vector illustration - stock vector

It made us cry.

In both instances, total strangers were able to brighten and uplift our day.